boss under pressure

Leonardo handed vote of confidence by Milan

October 1, 2009

AC Milan coach Leonardo came out fighting after being given a vote of confidence in the aftermath of their shock 1-0 home defeat by FC Zurich in the Champions League on Wednesday.

• AC Milan 0-1 FC Z├╝rich

hannu tihinen, Zurich
APHannu Tihinen gives Zurich a suprise lead

Although Milan won at Olympique Marseille in their Group C opener, they have managed only one goal at home this season and have taken just eight points from six Serie A matches.

"I reconfirm our faith in Leonardo," chief exectuive Adriano Galliani told Sky television. "At the moment everything is sorted. I think a draw would have been fair, we must move forward."

Former Milan forward Leonardo, known for his intelligence and fluency in five languages, was handed his first taste of management after Carlo Ancelotti's departure to Chelsea in May.

Galliani once joked they appointed the Brazilian because he was cheap as he was already on the payroll as sporting director. Angry fans believe the joke is closer to the truth after the sale of Kaka to Real Madrid to save money and limited new signings in the close season.

However, Leonardo refused to make excuses, despite the Rossoneri having struggled for two years now since their seventh European Cup triumph in 2007.

"To concede a goal like that after 10 minutes complicates the game," he told a news conference. "There are not a lot of ways to change it, we've got to be more compact. I've taken this job and I'm doing what I believe. No one put a gun to my head to take the role. We move forward. If we lose, we lose."

Two games against Real Madrid follow but Leonardo did not want to speak about how much Milan are missing Kaka.

"Of course we're not a team in a moment of great confidence. We can't talk about individuals, it's collective," he said. "Now certainly it's not easy. We've got to be there, with our army, and do our best.

"Right now, our performances don't offer many positives. But football is strange, we went to Marseille and won 2-1. This team has the resources to try to get out of this situation."

This weekend's league game at joint-bottom Atalanta now takes on epic proportions for the beleaguered Brazilian. Zurich coach Bernard Challandes was overjoyed with the victory after the Swiss lost their first game at Real.

"To win at Milan is a little bit of history for the club. We are a little team and we have beaten Milan at home," he said.

"It's very important and helpful for the next game, it gives us a bit of a chance. We were a bit lucky, especially in the second half but you can't take anything away from the team."